People love shopping local. Even more so, people love buying gifts that are local. They want to treat their friends to amazing experiences at local businesses.
With my day spa, I don’t sell anything online except for gift cards. I don’t try to compete with e-commerce stores. I simply focus on the one thing that no one else does in my market well. I focus on making it easy for my customers to buy gift cards.
I had the joy on Mother’s Day to watch a family go into my competitor. They asked if they sold gift cards. The lady was like “No”.
They came over to my spa and walked out with $300 in gift cards that they bought for their mother. Guess who got the new customer?
Each year, I sell close to ~$23,000 of gift cards just online. We sell another $25-35k in-store.
I’m going to break down for you my exact strategy on how I am selling so many gift cards through my website and in-store.
Stop Offering Just Plain Dollar Amounts
If someone is going through the trouble of buying a gift card from a local business — they don’t want to go the easy route and buy them just a gift card. They want to buy them something special. In fact, I have attached a log of all my recent gift card purchases.
Where you see “-”, the customer selected a dollar amount. In fact, 19 out of my last 26 purchases of gift cards have been for packages. People love treating someone to something unique. It’s a win-win for everyone.
The person buying feels like they are treating someone to something special. When the recipient gets the gift card, they enjoy it a lot. They feel someone really put an effort into the purchase.
Do you know what the cool part about selling an experience is?
When that new customer comes with that gift card — they get a full experience from your place. If you give them an award-winning experience, then they’ll love your place forever.
For example, a restaurant might want to do a “3-Course Meal for $49”. You can use John Taffer’s method of identifying that it’s a gift card. You put down a “blue napkin”. The whole staff know it’s a gift card. You go above and beyond to deliver an amazing experience. The food is delivered fast.
Gary Vee and John Taffer talking about retention:
At the end of the meal, the manager comes over and makes sure everything went great and offers a special on their next visit with a coupon.
Using Pricing Anchors
While most of the time, our customers want to buy packages as gift cards, some still want to buy just a dollar amount. We use two types of pages for our Gift Card Checkouts. The first is the specific package they want to buy. The second is a generic page that we can use to sell generic dollar amounts (in our case $75, $150 and $300).
The prices you pick influence the actual dollar amount the customer is going to buy. If you put prices up $5, $10 and $15 — most customers won’t ask, “Do you sell a $50 gift card?”
Then again, if you sell every gift card from $5 to $500, in $5 increments, the customer is going to have a choice overload and probably pick something towards the bottom.
Pricing Experiments You Might Not Know But Can Learn From
There’s an excellent article on the effect of a pricing anchor. When we created our pricing choices for our gift card, we choose one really high card value and two that are closer to each other. The result is that the majority of our purchases are the middle pricing option.
Make It Easy to Buy Gift Cards
Include a Link in Your Header
Customers are not going to search your entire site to see if you sell gift cards. They want to know right off the bat. Just like you might have links to jobs and careers, you should have a Gift Card link to at least one type of gift card right off the bat.
Go Above And Beyond With Your Links
When you come to our site, you will notice every service menu item has a second link right after “Book Now”. The second link is “Buy as a Gift”.
We make it super easy for the customer to select the package they want to treat someone to. Not only that, but they also are constantly reminded that we sell gift certificates.
Test Your Platform
When picking a platform for your gift cards, it’s absolutely imperative that you test the purchasing path yourself.
When we used our Appointment Reservation system to process our gift cards, we didn’t sell many gift cards. While their platform is amazing at managing reservations, it wasn’t designed for the details around selling gift cards.
It’s a two-page checkout though that includes every possible option to purchase the gift card directly through their page. The complexity of it reduces the overall purchases.
Make It Simple for Your Customer to Buy
Last year, when we did our full website rebuild, we had a custom platform built and implemented into our system to create a super smooth and easy checkout system. Since then, we have sold an additional $15,000 in gift cards compared year over year.
Gift Card Season is 101 Days Away — Here’s Your Action Plan
In the first two weeks of May, I sold almost $4,000 in gift cards for Mother’s Day. The scary thing is, that’s still only 25% of the volume that you are going to do during December!
60–100 Days Out
Start Crafting Packages and Offers
Right now, you need to start preparing your business on which packages you are going to sell. As we have already talked about, people love treating people to experiences. That also means they are willing to spend a little more to get a little more.
We sell robes at the spa. Do you know that 90% of our robe sales are tied to our three major holidays? It’s because we increase our prices and include them in our packages.
This past Mother’s Day, we took our already popular two-hour package, added a robe in and increased the price accordingly. There was no problem selling these increased value packages. In fact, 90% of all the robes we sell are for our three major holidays.
If you are running out of ideas on what are popular packages, start using tools like Groupon and LivingSocial. While you do not want to copy their prices, you can use them as a research tool to discover what packages are hot and trending.
During Black Friday, we would do various types of promotions —
“Buy 3, Get 1 Free”
“25% Off If You Buy Over $100 in Products”
A lot of these people were already asking if they could buy them as gifts.
Black Friday -> Christmas transition
One of the biggest things about selling gift cards well is capturing that transition. For the two weeks leading up to Black Friday, you want to strategically plan ads that fit that shopping day.
Once Black Friday is done, you want to immediately transition into promoting your Christmas Specials. This is why it’s very imperative to have a well laid-out plan, so you can make the transition smoothly.
Pro tip: Depending on how deep you discounted and the popularity of the gift cards, you may want to consider doing an “Extended Promotion — Gift Card Sale!”.
60 Days Out — Start Planting Seeds and Distribution
Build Dedicated Pages for Your Offers With Simple Checkout
Every successful campaign requires a dedicated page for each offer. You want to sell the feeling of that package. You want to make the page easy and simple. We use a one-page and Stripe for our system.
You are going to use the landing page for all your promotional material online. For all your Facebook promotions, your newsletters, etc.
There are many articles on how to do single-product checkout. Ours is a form with a Stripe gateway behind it. We capture the most important information: To, From, Design, Note, the Package. We let Stripe handle the processing, and we send the gift through the emails.
You can also look at some pre-built solutions as well.
Email campaigns and social media
Last year, the very first email I got about Christmas from Groupon was on September 17th.
On my Facebook feed, I have already started to see “Days till Xmas” countdowns.
The sooner and earlier you start to plant seeds into your customer that you will have gift certificates, gift baskets and packages available, the better.
Here are some of the emails that I have sent with success:
- 2016 Holiday Gift Guide (11/15)
- The Insider’s Secret Black Friday Spa Specials (10/31)
- Running out of time for a gift? Grab yours today online. (12/21)
Overall, I will send roughly eight to 12 emails between October and November to all my customers to promote the gift cards that I sell.
In-store flyers and A-frame
If you run any type of brick and mortar, you absolutely need to promote that you sell gift cards anywhere and everywhere you can. Do not hold back. Within our spa, we distribute flyers. We leave our upcoming promotions flyer out right by the magazine.
We use flyer stands and have them at checkout, in the bathrooms and by the product.
We create a beautiful A-frame that goes out in front our store. We decorate it with festive colored balloon so it catches the eye.
We even update our window cling to show that we sell gift cards!
The more seeds you plant into your customers, the more likely they will come back and buy. Think about Black Friday. No one wakes up and goes, “Hey, today I am going to buy this!”. No, they already know what they are going to buy seven-plus days out.
People still use Google to find gifts. They will type in things on where to buy them gifts, what to buy people, and so on. This campaign doesn’t need to be very elaborate because quite frankly, if you are in the local space, it’s easy to beat your competition.
Target keywords Like: “Portland Day Spa Gifts,” “Portland Massage Gift Card”.
“Portland Spa Packages & Gift Cards Available. Buy Online, Instantly Available.”
You will then send them to that pre-built landing page you have already designed for an easy online purchase. Guess what your competition isn’t doing? They are taking shortcuts and hoping the customer figures it out.
Last Two Weeks
Make sure your receptionists, front desk, staff and your whole entire team is ready to push gift cards.
Every time someone is checking out — “Were you interested in any of our Gift Card Packages?”
If your staff hear people are saying keywords like they have family in town, or that they are visiting — “Hey, I’m not sure you know, but we do have some really cool gift cards available during the Holidays.”
Help your customers out — don’t let them try to figure it out themselves. If someone needs help buying a gift card, just simply walk them through it. All too often, I see businesses be like, “Yup just go online and buy it”. Out of the hundred times I hear that, maybe two will buy it actually.
Final Pro Tip
Optimize your website, your social profiles like Facebook and Yelp to include the fact you sell gift cards. We don’t rank for any of main categories #1, but we do for gift cards. Guess what happens when someone in my city is looking for gift cards? They come to me.